Canada Organic Regime Operating Manual
General Information

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1 Overview of the Canada Organic Regime (COR)

The COR is a non-traditional regime for the CFIA. The Regulations provide a federal program for the regulation of Canadian organic products. The COR is designed to build on the existing system of domestic accreditation and certification. The CFIA is the competent authority that oversees the COR governing the use of the Legend. The CFIA enters into agreements with Conformity Verification Bodies (CVBs) provided these bodies meet the criteria established by the Regulations and CFIA. For the purpose of the Regulations the CVBs are designated by the CFIA to assess, recommend for accreditation and subsequently monitor certification bodies (CB) meeting the applicable accreditation criteria as set out in the Regulations.

The accredited CBs are responsible for the organic certification of agricultural products and organic product packaging and labelling certification. CBs employ inspectors to assess the practices of organic operators to verify that they comply with the regulations. These inspectors are referred herein as Verification Officers (VO). The VO provides the results of their assessment to their CB for evaluation. The CB, in turn, certifies as organic only those products that comply with requirements of the regulations.

In order to facilitate the import/export activities and to verify that importing country requirements are equivalent or in compliance with the COR , an Equivalency Determination between Canada and another country shall be performed. Such determination may result in reducing the importing country's rate of verification and avoid additional certification in the country of origin.

The CFIA is responsible for compliance verification and enforcement of the regulations which activities include label inspections in the marketplace, and audits of CVBs.

Building on the existing organic certification system, the Regulations set out the functions of the COR's two oversight bodies: CVBs and CBs.

2 References

The documents listed below are those referenced by this document. At the time of publication, the editions indicated below were valid. As all documents are subject to revision, parties using this document are encouraged to apply the most recent editions of these documents published.

Additional accreditation criteria for bodies that evaluate quality management systems in companies whose operations are on multiple sites in order to certify their products – CAEQ, 2007

CAN/CGSB-32.310-2006, Organic Production Systems General Principles and Management Standards (to the extent these standards are incorporated by reference into the regulations, - developed by the organic industry and the Canadian General Standards Board)

CAN/CGSB-32.311-2006, Organic Production Systems, Permitted Substances List (as incorporated by reference into the regulations and developed by the organic industry and the Canadian General Standards Board)

Certifying operations with Multiple Production Units, Sites and Facilities under the National Organic Program, Formal recommendation by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to the National Organic Program, 2008

European Commission, Directorate H. Sustainability and quality of agriculture and rural development, H.3 Organic Farming, Guidelines on imports of organic products into the European Union, Rev 1 dated 15.12.2008

IFOAM Requirements for Grower groups

ISO/IEC 17011:2004, Conformity assessment - General requirements for accreditation bodies accrediting conformity assessment bodies

ISO/IEC 17065 Conformity Assessment – Processes and Services Requirements for bodies operating products

SOR/2009-176, Organic Products Regulations (regulations made under the authority of the Canadian Agricultural Products Act)

3 Definitions

Accreditation cycle:
The period including the initial assessment or reassessment and the subsequent surveillance years.
Act:
The Canada Agricultural Products Act
Agency:
The CFIA established by section 3 of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act is responsible for the administration of the COR.
Audit:
A systemic and independent examination to determine whether activities and related results comply with planned arrangements and whether these arrangements are implemented effectively and are suitable to achieve objectives.
Canada Organic Regime (COR):
The Government of Canada regulated system for organic agricultural products.
Certification:
The procedure whereby a CFIA accredited certification body provides written assurance that agricultural products are organic as defined in and for the purposes of the Regulations. Certification of products may be based on a range of inspection activities including verification of management practices, auditing of quality assurance systems, and in/out production balances.
Certification Body (CB):
means a body that is accredited as a CB in accordance with section 6 of the Regulations and CFIA shall accredit the applicant as a CB on the recommendation of the CVB.
Compliance:
means adherence with requirements of laws and government regulations (e.g. Organic Products Regulations).
Conformity Verification Body (CVB):
means an entity that shall meet the requirements set out in ISO/IEC 17011 to be able to enter into an agreement with the CFIA under subsection 14(1) of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency Act to assess, recommend the accreditation of and monitor the CB.
Genetically engineered /modified organisms (GMO):
means products produced through techniques in which the genetic material has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally by mating and/or natural recombination.
Group Certification:
Certification of an organized group of producers with a central office, similar farming and production system, working according to a common internal quality management system, which is established and subject to continued surveillance by the central office. Group certification applies to the group as a whole. Certificate is issued to the central office of the group and shall not be used by a single group member.
Internal Control System (ICS):
is a documented internal quality system within a grower group that allows an external CB to delegate the annual inspection of any group members to an identified body or unit within the grower group.
Investigation:
Involves the gathering of evidence and information, from a variety of sources, relevant to a suspected violation or offence and is intended to refute the defence of due diligence and/or establish intent.
Multi-ingredient product:
A type of agricultural product composed of two or more agricultural products.
Organic Product:
An agricultural product that has been certified as organic in accordance with the Organic Product Regulations or that has been recognized as such under section 29 of the Regulations.
Organic Product Regulations (OPR):
These are the regulations referred to throughout the COR Operating Manual.
Opportunity for Improvement (OFI):
OFI is an opportunity to improve the organization's operating efficiency however if not addressed it might lead to a future non-conformity.
Verification Audit:
The purpose of a verification audit conducted by the CVB is to check the accuracy and thoroughness of the most recent inspection although it also offers an opportunity for an operator to comment on his inspection or the overall performance of the certification body should they wish to do so. In a verification audit, the CVB auditor repeats part or the whole of the physical inspection in company with the operator and compares any findings with that of the inspector as recorded in the inspection report. Short, partial checks of records are usually included as well.
Verification Officer (VO):
Person assigned by the Certification Body to conduct inspections and having the requisite qualifications and experience to conduct inspections for the purposes of the regulations.
Witness audit (by CFIA):
The COR audit team witnesses the activities of the CVB auditor during the initial assessment and the monitoring of a CB.
Witness Audit (by the CVB):
The purpose of a witness audit conducted by the CVB is to assess the quality of an inspector's performance through observing an inspection in process. An evaluation is made of the degree to which the inspector follows the policies and procedures of the certification body with regard to the application of scheme requirements by the operator. It is also an opportunity to observe the thoroughness with which inspectors investigate issues and the degree to which they are familiar with the reference standard. Auditors should remain silent during a witness audit although inspectors may be questioned further in private following the conclusion of the inspection. Inspectors should at any rate receive a short exit interview during which they may clarify any unclear issues and are informed of any points that the auditor intends to raise in the report.

4 Revision History

Table 1: Revision History of this Manual
Version Date Reason for the revision Scope of the revision
Feb, 2007 Draft of the COO QMS manual sent for peer review The entire document
Jun 20,2007 Feedback from the peer review incorporated in the COO QMS Manual The entire document
Sep 11, 2007 Feedback from the consultation with the industry The entire document
Oct 2008 CFIA comments Part A
Jan 30, 2009
(not released)
Amendments to the 2006 Organic Products Regulations The entire document
V11 Nov, 2009
(not released)
Consultation with the CVBs Modifications to Part B: Accreditation under the COR
Modifications to Part C; Certification under the COR
V12 Dec, 2009
(not released)
Additional comments from the CVBs Modifications to Part B: Accreditation under the COR
Modifications to Part C; Certification under the COR
V13 Jun 11, 2010 Edited for style and numbering of document. Include comments from CVBs and CFIA. New Part on grower group requirements. New Part on the Standards Interpretation Committee. The entire document
New Part F
New Part G
V14 June 26, 2012 Many editorial changes, addition of some new clauses and requirements The entire document.
V15 September 5, 2017 Minor editorial changes to streamline the designation process Preface, References, Definitions and Part A
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